PAARL – “Don’t throw us away!” That was Stiaan van Zyl’s strong message to Cricket South Africa after his masterful double century at Boland Park on Friday.
Van Zyl stroked a superb 228 off only 287 balls, which powered the Cobras to 574/8 declared in their Sunfoil Series clash against the Highveld Lions.
The visitors have responded with 191/2 at stumps on the second day.
The elegant left-hander was determined “to prove a point” after being overlooked by the Cobras team management throughout the season.
Despite regularly being among the leading first-class run-scorers on the South African domestic circuit for the last decade, Van Zyl was not considered for selection until veteran Cobras batsman Justin Ontong recently retired to join up with the Proteas support staff.
His first match was last week against the Titans, where Van Zyl also struck a half-century.
The omission was based on Van Zyl’s ineligibility for Proteas’ national selection due to his Kolpak contract status that allows him to play for Sussex in the English County Championship during the South African winter.
Although Kolpak cricketers are still utilised by other franchise teams around the country, the Cobras team management – headed by coach Ashwell Prince – have been steadfast in their commitment to providing opportunities for young players that have the potential to play for South Africa.
However, Van Zyl believes there is a still a place in the domestic cricket system for players like him, especially due to the experience he brings to the dressing room.
“I was very disappointed that I wasn’t given an opportunity to play. I am 30-years-old and I think I am approaching the peak of my career.
“Also batting out there with youngsters such as (Zubayr) Hamza and (Simon) Khomari was great. When I came through the ranks, I batted with guys like Puttick, Kemp, Ontong, and that fast-forwarded my career,” said Van Zyl, who has played 12 Tests for the Proteas.
“I definitely wanted to prove a point. I wanted to go out there and show that I am still hungry to play for the Cobras, and not just in it for ‘game time’.
“That I still go out there and want to put in performances, help the youngsters and win games for the Cobras.”
Independent Media understands that from next season, Cricket SA will no longer provide funding for the contracting of Kolpak players, with individual franchises expected to foot the bill if they are to remain part of the system.
“South African cricket needs experienced players. Don’t throw us (Kolpak players) away,” Van Zyl stressed. “I made my debut when I was 20-years-old and I relied on senior players for their support. It can only be beneficial to South African cricket.”
The Lions have also relied heavily on the experience of their captain Stephen Cook, who was 81 not out, and Rassie van der Dussen on 89.
Meanwhile, Proteas seamer Duanne Oliver’s three-wicket haul gave the Knights a slight advantage over the Titans in a tightly-contested tussle in Bloemfontein.
Olivier delivered 20 miserly overs to claim 3/37, which left the Titans on 210/5 in reply to the defending champions’ 363.
The Titans’ innings was held together by Andrea Agathangelou, who struck a solid 80 off 173 balls (12x4, 2x6), and he received support from Rivaldo Moonsamy (39 off 89 balls, 5x4).
At St George’s Park, young Dolphins seamer Kerwin Mungroo hauled his team back into the contest at with a return of 5/45 on debut.
After picking up Warriors opener Matthew Breetzke on Thursday already, the 23-year-old fast bowler claimed the home team’s last four wickets, which fell for the addition of just 55 runs.
This restricted the Warriors’ first innings lead to just 59.
Dolphins opener Sarel Erwee (52) and Morné van Wyk (58) wiped out the deficit with a 90-run opening stand before falling to Tladi Bokako and Aya Gqamane.
Vaughn van Jaarsveld (51 not out) and Sibonelo Makhanya (39 not out) took the Dolphins to stumps at 208/3 with an unbroken 84-run partnership for the fourth wicket.